City officials would be authorized to spend up to $14 million for the infrastructure improvements before construction of the stadium begins.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville City Council is set to vote on several different resolutions and proposals on Tuesday. The meeting started at 6 p.m.
Downtown Stadium Infrastructure Changes
One of the resolutions involved up to $14 million in infrastructure improvements to support the construction of a baseball stadium in the Old City area.
The changes will include new paving and storm sewer systems around the stadium including areas of Jackson Avenue, Florida Street, Willow Avenue and Patton Streets. The improvements will also include new curbing, sidewalks, landscaping, new plans, street signs, striping on the road and lighting.
The infrastructure improvements are set to be completed by the end of September 2023, according to plans. They will be completed street by street.
A previous agreement with developers stated they would be expected to pay for improvements associated with the stadium. In January, councilwoman Amelia Parker said she was worried that the city would pay for changes to the utility system so that the stadium could be built.
In the agreement for the infrastructure improvements, the city said it will not spend more than $14 million on the changes. An exact number on how much it cost to make changes to the areas around the downtown stadium was not immediately available.
During the meeting, officials said that since these were public streets, the city would take on the price of changing them instead of the stadium developers.
“We should not set aside work for the developer, just to meet the developer’s deadline,” Parker said, advocating for a competitive bidding process for the changes. “We made a promise to this community that this project would benefit members of the community not only in economic benefit opportunities but also that we would recruit the most impacted communities in our community … this is a $14 million opportunity to create more opportunities for workers.”
She criticized the city council and said they thought the deadline was more important than upholding the council’s promises to the city.
The motion passed 7-1. Parker was the only one not to vote for the resolution.
Latinx Community Business Funding
During the meeting, Knoxville City Council will voteed to give $90,000 to support a program that provides business education, digital tools, business coaching and connections to professional services among the Latinx community.
Officials said it was part of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce 5-year strategic plan, the Path to Prosperity. They said the plan prioritizes progressive and sustainable economic ecosystems and focuses on helping existing industries grow.
They also said Centro Hispano will help aspiring Latinx entrepreneurs and partner with the program. They will use a Spanish-speaking curriculum developed by Co.Starters and give participants Chromebooks to use during the program.
At the end of the program, participants will be able to keep the Chromebook as a business tool.
Fire Station #15 Repairs and Renovations
The city council also discussed whether to give $38,500 to repair and renovate a fire station. They said the scope of the repairs is similar to the ones done at a downtown fire station with a similar floor plan.
Fire Station #15 is located at 5301 Jacksboro Pike and the city will vote on whether MBI Companies Inc. will complete the work, too.
Lakeshore Park Alcoholic Beverages
City council members discussed whether to pass a new ordinance that would allow sales of alcohol in Lakeshore Park. It would need to pass on the first reading at Tuesday’s meeting, then pass again on the second reading before taking effect.
City leaders said event organizers at Lakeshore Park requested the option to use a professional bartending company during events. They said servers at the events will host valid permit cards from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
The proposed ordinance would also make having open containers of alcoholic beverages legal in some areas of the park and would make open containers legal in areas where a special event is being held.
Councilwoman Singh asked for clarification if small event organizers would still need to get approval from the beer board to serve alcohol. Officials clarified that they would need to get approval from an oversight committee for Lakeshore Park, and the beer board would be allowed to grant a permit based on the agreement with the Lakeshore Park group.
Larger events would still need to appear before the beer board.
It passed and will go before the city council at their next meeting for its second reading.
Right-of-way Changes and Property Changes for Downtown Stadium
Knoxville City Council also decided on whether to close some right-of-ways in the area around the proposed downtown stadium while infrastructure changes are built.
The proposals also authorize the mayor to deliver quitclaim deeds to the owners of property around the area that would show the city’s interest in owning property surrounding the proposed stadium.
They include areas around Florida Street in the right-of-way between East Jackson Avenue and Willow Avenue. The area on the southern side of East Jackson Avenue, at the right-fo-way between Patton Street and Florida Street, would also be affected.
Several other areas around East Jackson Avenues would be affected by right-of-way closures and quitclaim deeds. They can be found online.
Councilwoman Parker said she wanted more clarification about how much of the right-of-ways would be closed for the stadium. Officials said they would simply no longer be considered a public right-of-way. Parker then asked why they weren’t closing the whole road.
Officials said they chose not the close the entire roads out of respect of city property. They decided to close the sections after researching the area more and finding out the areas are property of the city.
Officials said portions of the right-of-way will remain part of the streetscapes and part of the infrastructure changes. They said it will remain public property as the project continues, and said the road in those right-of-ways will narrow for the stadium.
The ordinances passed on first reading.